The faces in anguish. The screams of a horse. The door of no exit. The eye of the blistered sun low as a ceiling bulb. The gasping bull that looks away. A glove for a hand – palm deep-lined. The screeching bird. The heavy mortal stagger of feet, the trampled flowers, the limp child in a mother’s paralysed arms. Flames from the rooftops and burning slate. A solitary candle thrust into despair. The cleaver pinned to the earth.
The dread contortions of life are frozen. That we made this altar is absurd. That we can forget it is the horror.
I don’t know, said Paul, staring intently at the painting.
Me neither. I don’t get that face in the picture, with its long nose and narrow eyes, gazing down upon the naked, reclining girl. The face is so white, it’s like a ghost. And she is so pink, so fleshy and naked, her arms open, eyes shut. Her yellow angel’s hair. The exotic green plant, with its crevices and tentacle stalks; those two black, shadowy stripes, like arms reaching across her body. The fruit lying beside her. The deep blue draped seclusion. No, it says nothing to me, no, no.